Albert Fish became sexually involved with a young man in Wilmington, Delaware during the summer of 1910. Their relationship involved sadomasochism and ended as quickly as it began.
A Farmhouse of Suffering
Thomas awoke to scraping sounds to his left. The young man was groggy and it was difficult to focus. He looked toward the sound and winced from the pain in his wrists. Albert Fish, the nice man he’d met two weeks before, had bound them behind a pole as well as the young man’s feet.
Thomas struggled and the ropes bit into his skin. The teenager tried to yell but a paint-smeared rag muffled his cries. Albert had stuffed his mouth with it and wrapped twine around his head to keep it in place. The twine had begun to rub his cheeks raw.
Albert glanced over at the nineteen-year-old while sharpening a knife. The rhythmic sound of metal on stone ebbed and flowed like gentle waves splashing on a shore. After a few seconds, he put the knife down, stood, and stripped off his shoes and clothes. He placed them on a bench in an old barn that still smelled like hay and manure. Near his clothes, a jar of petroleum jelly, a bottle of peroxide, and a white paint rag sat. Fish opened the jar of petroleum jelly and dabbed the rag in it, pulling out an egg-sized portion. He smeared it throughout the cloth.
Thomas didn’t understand what had happened. Albert had been so kind to him. He bought Thomas dinner, hugged him and only spanked Thomas in playful ways. No one had ever been so loving to him before. It made him feel special, unlike his parents and neighbors. They’d only told Thomas how stupid he was. It left an ache in his heart. One that Albert Fish had soothed.
But now the thin, almost fragile, man with the soft hands and gray mustache, held a knife in one hand, and a rag and peroxide in the other.
Albert approached Thomas and set the peroxide down near Thomas’ feet. He covered the bottle top with the rag and stood. Albert pressed up against Thomas, aroused.
Thomas flinched and tried to pull away but Albert wrapped his arm across Thomas’ waist and drew his hip back against Albert’s erection.
“You’re a very sweet young man,” Albert said. “But you made friends with the wrong person.”
Albert raised his hand holding the knife to Thomas’ face and stroked the teenager’s cheek. Thomas could see his reflection in the blade. His eyes were red and swollen. Thomas began to whimper.
“That sounds beautiful to me,” whispered Albert.
He smiled and pecked the boy above the twine that held the paint rag in his mouth. Like a serpent slithering, Fish moved the blade along the young man’s chest. Then down his stomach and stopped at Thomas’ penis.
Thomas could feel the cool touch of the blade under his limp shaft as Albert held it. Albert pressed his forehead against the young man’s temple and then flicked the blade up. Fish’s thumb pressed down at the same time and sliced through Thomas’ member.
Pain shot through Thomas: His body jerked and twisted as blood squirted into Albert’s hand and dripped like honey from a comb to the dirt floor below. The young man screamed, his vocal cords ripping from tension, but the rag in his mouth did its job. No one outside the barn’s walls could hear what happened.
Thomas slumped forward. His hot tears rolled up and flowed down his cheeks, dripping off the twine like gentle rain.
Albert Fish petted the boy’s head. He set the bloody knife and phallus down and grabbed the peroxide bottle. Tilting it, he soaked the petroleum jelly-filled rag with peroxide. The drops sizzled like bacon fat in a griddle on the floor.
Fish pulled what was left of Thomas’ penis up and wrapped the rag around the shaft. Thomas yelped and jerked again, but his struggles faded back to whimpers. The young man was spent and collapsed to his knees.
Albert looked at the young man before him. Not with pity, nor with guilt. There was unfinished business to attend to. He lifted the knife from the floor and brushed the blood and dirt from it. Fish slipped it under the twine that held the rag in Thomas’ mouth and cut it loose.
Thomas spit the rag out but he didn’t scream for help. He just cried and whimpered as before.
Fish now stood in front of the boy, holding the knife at Thomas’ face.
“Look at me,” Albert said in a soft tone, but Thomas was too weak to raise his head.
Albert lifted his chin and opened his mouth, slipping the knife under the young man’s tongue. With an upward flick and his thumb pressing down, Albert cut it out in the same fashion as the boy’s penis. The tongue fell to the dirt with a mouthful of blood.
And kept a killer’s secret.
The Thomas Kedden Affair
In 1910, Albert Fish (now 40-years-old) worked as a house painter and traveled for work along the East Coast. He met Thomas Kedden (age 19) while working in Wilmington, Delaware. It appears Fish had scoped the town to find a place where he could torture and kill. That place was an abandoned farm a few miles outside the city.
From what we know in Fish’s confessions, Thomas freely entered into a sadomasochistic, homosexual affair with Fish. They spent two weeks together before Fish took Thomas to the farm.
Fish intended to kill the young man but became wary when people came around the property. They might see or hear the torture. If anything, Fish had a strong self-preservation instinct and abandoned Thomas bound to a pole in a barn.
But he took a souvenir, the young man’s penis.
History doesn’t know what happened to Thomas Kedden, Fish’s first, known victim. Fish said he thought the young man died at the farm. No other record details Thomas, his life or death.
In the next chapter, we’ll revisit the life-altering event that made Albert Fish the Boogeyman of Brooklyn.
Albert Fish preyed on the young and naive, or someone disadvantaged in life. In Thomas’ case, he suffered from intellectual disabilities. Historians aren’t sure if the young man had a low IQ or a form of mental retardation. Fish never said what Thomas suffered from. He only stated the young man wouldn’t be missed by the townsfolk.
And that sums up why Fish targeted his victims: They were easy to overlook.
At the time, society didn’t show much concern for African-Americans, working children or the mentally disabled. So Fish took advantage of that. He could lure them with money, toys or the hint of companionship. His job as a journeyman house painter allowed him to move from town-to-town without suspicion. By the time their parents or caregivers would look for their wards, Fish had skipped town and left an unsolved murder case.
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